People in Paris, Ontario are anxiously waiting for a decision from Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray -- their last hope to protect their drinking water from being contaminated by the activities of a new gravel pit situated between two of the town's Wellhead Protection Areas. We have been supporting the Concerned Citizens of Brant (ccob.ca) in their five year long struggle and we are asking everyone to sign on to a letter encouraging Minister Murray to make the right decision.
Although the gravel pit was approved more than 40 years ago, Dufferin Aggregates didn't start to develop it until 2012. Unbelievably, the Ontario government allowed development to proceed and even approved a gravel washing facility on the site despite serious concerns from groundwater experts that the washing process could concentrate and release poisonous herbicides such as Atrazine and glyphosate that have been applied on the land for decades.
Atrazine is ranked highest of 83 pesticides in the Agriculture Canada priority scheme for potential groundwater pollution.
"Atrazine demasculinizes male gonads producing testicular lesions associated with reduced germ cell numbers in teleost fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, and induces partial and/or complete feminization in fish, amphibians, and reptiles. These effects are strong (statistically significant), consistent across vertebrate classes, and specific." - "Demasculinization and feminization of male gonads by atrazine: Consistent effects across vertebrate classes," Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 127 (2011) 64–73.
Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor and has been rated as a Category 1 substance of high exposure concern by the European Union which banned its use in 2004. It is now under federal government review because of mounting evidence that it is harmful at levels much lower than previously suspected.
When Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) officials approved Dufferin's application, the CCOB appealed to the Environmental Review Tribunal, asking for additional conditions to be put on the MOECC approvals for the pit. Expert witnesses such as Ken Howard (one of the key scientists involved in the Walkerton Inquiry) testified to the risk of contamination posed by the pit's operations and exposed serious flaws in the studies paid for by Dufferin which the MOECC based their approvals upon.
Howard explains, "Despite being requested to do so, the proponents have not made any serious effort to determine the presence and distribution of atrazine at the site. Their investigation program -- design, implementation and number of samples collected is entirely inadequate."
In the end, the Environmental Review Tribunal ruling did not grant the conditions that the CCOB were seeking to protect their drinking water.
The appeal to Minister Murray is the last chance to get those prudent and responsible conditions in place to ensure the safe operation of a facility that should never have been allowed in such a sensitive location.
Please take a moment to sign and share this letter of support now.
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